New vitiligo cream may become offered on NHS

14 Mar 2023

Skin cream ruxolitinib, which can be used by vitiligo patients to restore pigment to the skin, might soon be offered in the UK on the NHS.

From April 2023, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) will commence the process of appraising the product (which carries the brand name Opzelura and has received US Food and Drug Administration approval), awaiting a decision on whether it will receive approval to be prescribed by UK medical practitioners.

The substance can be used to restore the natural pigment of a person’s skin, especially on the white skin patches experienced by vitiligo patients, but it also carries potentially serious side effects. The product can weaken patients’ immune system, making them more susceptible to serious infections including active tuberculosis, and may exacerbate existing cardiovascular problems. Nonetheless, an internal Opzelura study showed significant reduction in pigmentation after using the product for 24 weeks.

The European Medicines Agency is also considering approving the medication for use on patients over 12. It is as yet unknown when Opzelura would become publicly available if it is approved.


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